The road was closed on July 30
Pune: The closure of the motorable road leading up to Sinhagad Fort has badly affected the business of eating joints and small time sellers of the historic hill.
The road to Sinhagad Fort was closed after boulders fell off the hill and blocked the road on July 30, after which it was announced that the road will remain closed for eight days for safety and repair purpose.
Vishwanath Majumale, owner of a snack joint inside the Sinhagad Fort premises, said, “Since the road is closed, only tourists who come trekking all the way up, visit the fort now. Majority of the visitors prefer to drive up here. Monsoon is the peak business season for us, but for last 4-5 days, we have suffered major losses.”
He was expecting a good crowd during the long weekend during Raksha Bandhan. “But, only 10 per cent of the expected crowd visited the fort,” he lamented.
Unlike Majumale, many hotel or stall owners have stopped coming to work these days.
Devidas Dada, who owns a small stall of boiled groundnut, limbu-sharbat (fresh lime juice) and raw mango chaat said, “It’s economical for many to just shut shops for a couple of days till the road opens up.” Even on weekdays, youngsters and tourists come here. My shop is small and on regular days, I used to earn Rs 500-700. Last couple of days, I feel lucky to have made even Rs 100,” he added.
Public Works Department (PWD) has the responsibility of carrying out the work of fixing spots where rocks may fall. A source from Forest Department said that officials of PWD and forest department met the district collector recently to apprise him of the work. According to him, the work of clearing the boulders and rocks is almost complete, but for safety of tourists and for implementing rock fall protection measures, the road is being kept closed for some more days. “The road could be kept closed for one more week, possibly,” he said.
However, that would hit the business hard for these shopkeepers as another long weekend of Independence Day is fast approaching.
A shopkeeper, on the condition of anonymity, said that the authorities are dragging the work unnecessary for a long time. “We faced a similar situation two years ago. That time too, the road was shut for around a week. On my way up here, I didn’t see any work being done. There shouldn’t be any delay in this work as it affects our livelihood,” he said.